What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Toca Cars is a quirky driving and building app that mimics a homemade cardboard toy car, road, and building set. It includes mildly violent content: Kids detonate a bomb to clear the screen. Players choose from a girl or boy driver, and two modes of play: an already constructed world for beginner and youngest players, or an empty world that players can design themselves by tapping on the buildings and other objects to populate the screen. As kids choose from a variety of objects -- from buildings, street signs, and ramps to ice cream spills and a Swedish flag -- they drive around the roads, bump into objects, and jump ramps. This whimsical, one-person driving game also includes a pesky dog that chases the player's car, and a robot that pushes everything in its way. Build, drive around, knock down, get chased, jump ramps, and more on Toca Cars.
What kids can learn
Engagement, Approach, Support
Free-flow, engaging play, although the dog chasing and robot bumping the player's car can become frustrating. Still, the cardboard cutout objects and bright surroundings create a happy, make-believe scene.
Designed to maximize no-rules creativity. As kids observe how the dog and robot move, they can choose how much they want to interact with them; unfortunately, that's not clear from the start, and some kids may become quickly frustrated.
No formal tutorial, but many players won't need one. The grown-ups section (accessible from the main screen) has some gameplay explanations.
What's it about?
Choose the girl or boy driver, then select one of two modes: Pre-constructed World or Empty World. In the pre-constructed mode, kids simply drive the car around by moving their finger in the direction they want the car to go. In the empty world, kids scroll through and drag objects on the bottom of the screen to places on or around the roads, then drive, knock stuff down, or jump ramps as in the other mode. Drive away from the chasing dog, and avoid bumping into the robot or it will push your car around. A fun, free-flow driving experience.
Is it any good?
With its cardboard cutout objects, bright colors, and adorable drivers and cars, TOCA CARS is a lot of fun to look at and mostly fun to play, although maneuvering around the dog and robot "mechanical playmates" can be frustrating. Also, the use of a bomb to clear the screen of buildings seems curiously out of step with the rest of the app, which is otherwise clearly suitable for youngest app users. A more kid-friendly choice for screen-clearing could be an eraser or even play scissors to match the cardboard theme. That said, it's really fun for kids to choose what to include on and along their car's roads, then jump the ramps, knock over objects, and drive almost anywhere they want on this non-racing driving app. They can knock over anything in their path in this no-rules playland (which is somewhat misleading, given that most cars can't knock down trees in one bump, but this is make-believe play).
Unfortunately, the dog and robot that chase, bump, and knock over the player's car are downright maddening at times and don't seem to jibe with the fun-loving road trip. If kids aren't bothered by the dog-and-robot chasing, Toca Cars can be a fun way to construct and drive around in a bright, merry world of their own making.
Families can talk about...
If your kid is frustrated by the chasing dog and pushy robot, offer some tips on how to avoid them.
The next time you have some cardboard boxes around, make a cardboard world together and incorporate some of the objects from Toca Cars.